The Outer Banks lands on many travelers’ must-see lists and with good reason. Between great weather, beautiful views, and an abundance of southern charm, this beach-based destination is full of opportunities. More than just a place for a particular age group or style, there’s something for everyone hidden among the miles of undisturbed vistas. Check out these OBX must-do highlights anyone can enjoy during their visit.
Life’s A Beach
It might seem like a no-brainer during travel planning, but North Carolina’s Outer Banks feature some of the world’s best beaches. Plan for at least one day touring these beauties of the south since each one in the area has their own distinctive assets.
Anyone searching for the most lifeguards will find it among the waters of Ocracoke’s beaches. Since the area has strong pulls from rip currents, many visitors love waiting for the tide pools that form near the coastline. It also allows drivers to access the beach itself with proper permits. Check with the local government for more details on this feature and related laws.
Carova beach is another gem that goes undiscovered by many tourists. Its placement among the sandy dunes provides views unlike any other. Some take on the terrain with a 4-wheel ATV, while others venture on foot to see the sights. Since it doesn’t show up on many travelers’ itineraries, the area is one of the least crowded; that means more time to take in all the area has to offer without the burden of heavy crowds.
Cape Hatteras’ National Seashore may have more visibility among visitors, but it remains a great choice for travelers. Searching for seashells has become a hobby for those who count themselves as longtime guests. Venture into the area during the off-season for an experience that makes all of this seem like a private beach. With milder temperatures throughout the year, this well-known spot should be a part of every plan.
Lighthouses have long been associated with the Outer Banks. They have not only a history, but unique stories that trace the history of North Carolina itself. Touring and seeing these special attractions is something to behold for even the most seasoned travelers.
While Cape Hatteras may take the title as one of the world’s best known lighthouses, there are two others along the Outer Banks that deserve to be seen and even talked about. The Bodie Island lighthouse and Currituck Beach lighthouse both have special stories as well as connections to the historical sites nearby. Until the early 2010s, Bodie Island had a lighthouse with no stairs or internal access to outside visitors. All of that changed with an update that saw a full renovation, including stairs, added to its design. Guests can now see the lighthouse’s internal workings and even step into the heart of its structure thanks to the changes.
Currituck lighthouse is another landmark that sets itself apart from other attractions. Starting in the spring, each guest is welcome to see its workings. Unlike many lighthouses, this spot houses a collection of exhibits dedicated to its story. Guests who chose to do the climb must sign a waiver and there is a charge for admission. For two months each year, January and February, the attraction closes for regular maintenance.
Get In Touch With Nature
Maybe the Wright Brothers were in search of nature itself while perfecting the airplane. After all, they did research into the flight patterns of birds. The area’s natural wonders are something everyone should take advantage of while visiting the coast. It’s more than the ocean itself that makes the Outer Banks a paradise for visitors. Step away from the sea to get a real glimpse of aquatic life at the North Carolina Aquarium. Located on Roanoke Island, this attraction features large tanks and up-close encounters with the creatures that call the ocean their home. In addition to seeing the species, guests are also encouraged to learn about their habitats, lives, and the threats facing their survival. A sea turtle rescue program runs through the aquarium. Guests can see the turtles as they recover and prepare to return to the ocean. Volunteers as well as staff are also on hand to answer questions.
The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education is another spot that highlights the nature as well as its importance. It includes numerous displays illustrating the history of animals and plants in the area. The staff works to educate visitors about not only history, but how wildlife needs constant care and protection. One of the biggest elements talked about is recreational sports like fishing. Classes are also offered for even more learning opportunities. Bring a picnic and take advantage of the extensive outdoor area that welcome guests. Afterwards, stay for all of the activities the nearby beach offers.
Of course, the wild horses have become icons of the area. One of the best ways to see them is through approved tours that respect their freedom while giving visitors the best views. The horses can be seen in the wild horses conservation easement and most tours know the exact spots as well as times to catch them in all their glory. There are plenty of photo ops, so bring the camera and expect plenty of unforgettable moments as these horses traverse the beach.
For a true experience in nature without limitations, Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve offers one of the coasts only natural forests. Spanning over 800 acres, it is a paradise full of natural highlights and wildlife in their usual habitats. More than just a sightseeing experience, this forest is full of extensive hiking trails that have become some of the state’s most beloved among residents. Along the way, look out for the expansive ponds that welcome the area’s large population of birds. Maps are available to help newcomers find their way through every trail. Fishing is not allowed.
A visit to the Outer Banks is full of possibilities for travelers, even the Wright Brothers knew that. With an extensive dedication to wildlife and natural highlights, the area keeps a constant balance between its past and its future. Still, these beaches and coastal towns welcome adventure as well as memories that last a lifetime.
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